The little town of Oberammergau in Germany has become world famous for the Passion Play which it produces every ten year. One of the chief characters in the play is Judas and the scene of his remorse and despair is one of the highlights of the drama.

At one performance, an open-air audience of thousands sat watching the great scene where Judas bitterly regrets his treachery but the chief priests only laugh at him: his Master is safely in their power. Judas can do nothing and remorse turns his thoughts to suicide. “To whom can I go? All is lost! he moans. The audience watched in dead silence as Judas slowly turned away in utter despair. Suddenly a little girl’s voice rang out loud and clear: “Mummy! Why doesn’t he go to Our Lady?”

The beautiful question that sprung so naturally from the heart of a little girl summarizes in it’s own innocent way the tremendous devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary which for centuries has been a gloriously distinctive mark of Catholic life.

I feel quite certain that we have everything to gain from a deepening of our devotion to Mary, and I would like to see a much greater effort in our own country to understand Mary’s special place in the plan of God’s redemption.

Just as all the world-famous Marian shrines, for example, Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe, are also shrines of intense devotion to the Blessed Eucharist, so too, a clear appreciation of Mary’s role in our life will go a long way in making us into fervent and devoted apostles of Jesus. On the other hand, any attempt to restrict or to diminish devotion to Mary will inevitably lead to a lessening of the whole Christian life.

Let me, then, dearly beloved, in all humility but with equal clarity since it is my duty to be a shepherd and teacher of the faithful, apply here the beautiful words of the Book of Wisdom which the Church so often applies to Our Lady: “What I have learned without self-interest, I pass on without reserve; I do not intend to hide her riches. For she is an inexhaustible treasure to men, and those who acquire it win God’s friendship, commended as they are to him by the benefits of her teaching.” (Wis 7: 13-14).

Why then do we venerate Our Lady? Simply because for us Mary is, above everything else, a mother: Mother of God and mother of men.

Of course, as we all know, all this is based on the dogmatic fact that there is but one Person in Jesus Christ, a Divine Person, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity who, without in any way ceasing to be God, became man through Mary. Jesus Christ has therefore two natures at the use of the one Divine Personality.

The early Councils of the Church which defended so stoutly the divinity of Christ against the heresies of the day thereby defended also the divine motherhood of Mary.

That there have been and probably will continue to be certain untheological exaggerations in the expressions of devotion towards Our Lady cannot be denied but, in a world where so many people are influenced by horoscopes and planets, it is hard to see that pious exaggerations will do much harm.

To be truly intelligent in our devotion to Mary, we should certainly avoid all forms of superstition. It is also necessary to understand that it would be wrong for us to picture God our Father as an angry tyrant whose punishing hand is held back by the entreaties of the Virgin Mary. Let us be clear on this point: a thousand Virgin Mary’s could never begin to love us as much as God, for he loves us only as an infinitely loving and loveable being could love.

But once we have set aside all these uninformed and exaggerated tendencies, we can gaze with delight and awe on the extraordinary dignity of this humble virgin of Nazareth:

With God the Father she can look upon Jesus Christ and say: “This is my Son, the Beloved.”

God the Son, Light of light, can look upon her and say: “She is a reflection of the eternal light, untarnished mirro of God’s creative power, image of his goodness.” (Wis 7:26).

God the Holy Spirit can look upon Mary and say: “ It is in you that I formed Jesus Christ, first spiritually and then physically and it is through you that I shall continue to form him spiritually in men until the end of time.”

Such is the unmistakable plan of God, of the all-powerful God who could have chosen so many other ways of bringing the world back to Him but who decided irrevocably that the world would be saved only through Jesus Christ who was born of the Virgin Mary.

The Scriptures were not written to tell us everything. There are many things that have to be developed and amplified by the intelligent application of the mind to what is know. But what the Scriptures do tell in very clear terms is the altogether special role of the Virgin Mary.

The Gospel according to St. Luke gives Mary a very prominent place in the first three chapters which speak of the conception of Our Lord, his birth and the events that followed. St. John shows her as present at the very first miracle. He shows us Mary standing at the foot of the cross when the world’s redemption was being accomplished, and the Acts of the Apostles completes the picture by recounting how the apostles joined in continuous prayer with Mary, the mother of Jesus and the others. It is on this group that the Holy Spirit came down on that first Pentecost Sunday.

To complete the statements of Holy Scripture which are heavily developed and backed, the Father’s and Doctors of the Church, pope after pope, have extolled the greatness of Mary and held her up for the veneration of the faithful. The faithful have not been slow in responding, for, to us all, whether married or single, man or woman, old or young, a mother will always be a mother and we don’t have to offer anyone any explanation why we love our mother. In fact, we would feel offended to have to prove that we should love and venerate our mother.

Now why do I say that the world needs not merely a return to devotion to Our Lady but a strengthening and a deepening of that devotion? First of all, because of all human persons, no one fitted more perfectly into God’s plan than Mary. So that every single one of us can see in her the supreme example of what all of are called to be: an element in the whole process of renewing the face of the earth. Mary became truly involved- to use popular terminology - in the renewal of mankind through the Pascal Mystery of Jesus Christ. True devotion to Mary must therefore necessarily consist in imitating her in this involvement. This is why the externals of devotion - pilgrimages, novenas, hymns and prayers - can easily remain separated from the really interior work which God wishes to accomplish in our hearts and minds.

Secondly, because the world and our own society are feeling more and more the need of a mother. For the world and our own society have grown violent and selfish and many are being left aside, many are being forgotten. This is particularly true in the field of education, and we have to thank God that so many of our teachers, especially in our primary schools, are mothers who can give and are giving that special tender loving care for which mothers have been so renowned.

So we must pray that all categories of workers in the field of education may see clearly what is expected of them, that they may cooperate with one another and, with the blessing of Almighty God, bear abundant fruit.

We have to pray that there will always be full cooperation between Church and State for the benefit of our children.

We have to pray for clear-sightedness, for the ability to admit our mistakes and the humility to correct them, for we must work not to show who is better than who, but because that is clearly God’s will for us.

You may find a mother who is very devoted to her children and who attends to all the cuts and bruises they receive from the stones in the yard, and that is indeed admirable. But I am sure dearly beloved, you will all agree that far better is the mother who, if at all possible, has the stones removed from the yard so that the children will not get cut and bruised.

I am calling then on all to be truly apostolic. You cannot be truly catholic unless you are also apostolic. It is not for mothers that Mary is called Queen of apostles. She conceived Jesus for the benefit of mankind. The virgin motherhood of Mary was an apostolic event.

Yes, dearly beloved, let us turn with confidence to Mary our Mother, for gaining her is more rewarding than silver, more profitable than gold. She is beyond the price of pearls, nothing you could covet is her equal. Her ways are delightful ways, her paths all lead to contentment. She is a tree of life for those who hold her fast, those who cling to her live happy lives.” (Prov 3: 13-15, 17).

Our Divine Saviour gave us all that He was and all that He had, and this gift included his blessed Mother. To each one of us Jesus is still saying: “This is your Mother.” And He wants us to do what John the beloved disciple did: He wants us to make a place for her in our home. He wants to see her gentle influence in our minds, our hearts, and in our lives.

For her part, Mary waits like a true mother. She does not force herself on us. She waits patiently, even for those who seem to have little time for her, for they are her children too. She waits and she prays: the Refuge of sinners, the Comforter of the afflicted the Help of Christians. She stands there waiting to come to our assistance as soon as we say the word. So let us say a word, let us all with joy, with gratitude, with confidence, with love, let us turn to her and cry out from the very depths of our hearts:

Mother! Mother! Mother!


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